Coast Salish Territory – The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is pleased to announce that residents of all First Nations communities in the province of British Columbia have now been offered a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
This milestone was reached thanks to the strength of partnerships with communities, the Ministry of Health, and regional and provincial health authorities who walked alongside us in this journey. From the outset we were guided by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization's recommendation that Indigenous people be prioritized for access to initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines. With this recommendation in the forefront, we set a target of March 31, 2021 to complete first dose clinics in all BC First Nations communities.
“This is a major milestone in the ongoing fight against the spread of COVID-19 in First Nations communities," says Richard Jock, CEO of the First Nations Health Authority. “It is testament to the incredible determination, dedication, and effort demonstrated by community and Nation health staff and leadership, FNHA staff, and provincial and regional health authority partners who supported access to and the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines across British Columbia."
The FNHA began to administer COVID-19 vaccines in an initial 10 First Nations communities on December 29, 2020 as part of the provincial government's Phase 1 vaccine rollout, which included a focus on rural and remote First Nations communities. Based on feedback from First Nations Chiefs and leaders, a whole community approach in which everyone age 18 and over was offered a vaccine, was taken. This was an important step toward protecting individuals, families and communities.
As the availability of vaccine increased the FNHA, in partnership with the Province, health authorities, and communities, entered into the second phase of the rollout plan, bringing vaccine to the balance of First Nations communities in the province. In addition to this, Indigenous peoples living away from home age 65 and older began receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on March 15, 2021.
Building on these advocacy efforts, the whole community approach was extended to rural, remote and urban settings on March 30, 2021, with COVID-19 vaccinations becoming available to Indigenous people eighteen years and older.
With three months of First Nations community vaccination campaigns to draw from, our data supports the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines by showing a clear decline in COVID-19 cases among people who have received a first dose of vaccine. These results are very similar to those analyses completed by the BC Centre for Disease Control and shared most recently by British Columbia's Provincial Health Officer focused on residents of long-term care facilities.
Colleen Erickson, First Nations Health Authority Chair
“The FNHA has worked very hard with our partners to complete our vaccine rollout to all FN communities in an effective and culturally safe way," says Colleen Erickson, First Nations Authority Chair. “As we near completion, and once community immunity is reached, we look forward to being able to gather and celebrate together."
Dr. Shannon McDonald, First Nations Health Authority Acting Chief Medical Officer
“It is a sad truth that First Nations communities and Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus. It is only through the commitment of so many that we are celebrating this important milestone today."
Charlene Belleau, First Nations Health Council Chair
“We acknowledge the hard work of the FNHA, our Regional FNHA teams, Leadership and frontline health workers who made sure First Nations were and continue to be a priority for vaccination. To ensure 'no-one is left behind' we are now focused on a whole-of-community approach for urban and away from home adults, following public health orders while anxiously awaiting second doses of vaccines for our people."
Adrian Dix, British Columbia Minister of Health
“Every person who receives a vaccine makes communities safer and gets us closer to putting the COVID-19 pandemic behind us. The hard work of First Nations communities and the First Nations Health Authority played an important role in this milestone. The collective achievement of the first dose provided to every First Nations community in B.C is a reason to celebrate, while recognizing our work together to beat the virus continues."
Learn more: To find out more about First Nations Health Authority, visit: http://www.fnha.ca/
Kevin Boothroyd, Director Media Relations
First Nations Health Authority